For Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week, Lorraine Fleetwood, from Portsmouth, is sharing her experience after spending time on the neonatal unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital (QA) five years ago with her son.
31-year-old Lorraine was just 26 weeks + 6 days pregnant when her waters unexpectedly broke and was rushed to Southampton General Hospital. As a result of an infection, Lorraine was diagnosed with sepsis and Jacob was eventually born at 27 weeks + 3 days, weighing 2lb 8oz.
Lorraine spent three weeks on the neonatal unit at Southampton before being transferred to her local neonatal unit at QA. Lorraine says: “The whole experience was an emotional rollercoaster. You have ups and downs and the magical moments. I found it quite lonely because it was just me most of the time.”
Lorraine spent a further four weeks at QA before being able to go home with Jacob and says she couldn’t have done it without the support of the neonatal team. She adds: “The team were fantastic and I couldn’t have done it without them. The community team were also amazing and always there for me when I needed them, even on Christmas day.”
To give back to the teams that looked after her son Jacob so well, Lorraine has signed up to become a Bliss champion. Lorraine says: “A Bliss champion is someone that can listen to the families and talk about anything, even if it’s what they have been watching on TV. I am there to provide support and help them along their journey.
“I have always wanted to give back to the neonatal unit and I am now able to do this as a Bliss champion.”
Carol Buxton, Family Support & Infant Feeding Specialist at QA, notes: “We are very grateful that Lorraine would like to do this. This will be a great support for parents and families for their emotional needs. This is a really big thing for our neonatal department.”